Bird Species in Decline

Be like the bird,
who halting in his flight on limb too slight,
feels it give way beneath him,
yet sings knowing he hath wings.~~Victor Hugo

I've heard some disturbing news from Britain. According to this article by Louise Gray of The Telegraph, some of British well-known birds are in danger of dying out. The species that have seen a dramatic fall in their populations are cuckoo, turtle dove, grey partridge and corn bunting. There are reports announcing bird species all over the world are threatened. Main reasons for the decline is believed to be agriculture, logging (habitat destruction) and invasive species.

Birds can also be seen as barometer of how the state of nature really is. Declining bird populations is a really bad sign about the state of nature in general.

I hope we are able to stop this decline as birds are a very important part of the nature. Just think about going for a walk in the woods without hearing any bird chirps. That would be a very sad day.

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We are back...with Yummylicous Banana Crumb Muffins

Peace, you are my friend.
I keep you by my side
and in my heart at all times.

No, we didn't fall off the planet...just downright busy living and experiencing life.

Where should I start? My laptop is fried after ds spilled a few drops of water on the keyboard in the middle of the night last week. Yesterday, the backup/only PC version laptop was infected by viruses according to AntiVirus 2009 that was downloaded onto the laptop unexpectedly. After hours of troubleshooting and a system restore to last Friday, it still keeps locking up now when I try to upload photos stored in san disks. Consequently, there will be no photos to share taken in past two days until...Is this a hint? Should I get a new laptop? Decision, decision! All will have to wait after our annual family retreat in Chautaugua with over a hundred of unschoolers in a secluded island near Lincoln City, OR. Won't you come and join us for a great vacation?

After a couple of 103° days, I was thrilled to welcome a few thunder storms with hail, a cold night, and chilly morning--cascade mountains are covered in snow this morning. As I peeked out the window, sun is smiling in the bright blue sky. It will be a glorious day! Plus, our friends from Eugene, OR, will be here this afternoon, spending a night at our home.

Our lives didn't slow down as I wished at all this summer. My younger daughter recognized the milestone in her life--another phase of her adventurous life--when she said farewell to the last day of single digits while welcoming double digits last week of July. She's spirited. She's my drama queen. I'm every bit grateful for her entry into my world a whole decade ago. Here, here, here, and here are some magical moments captured during her surprise celebration put together by her older 12-year-old sister. She is loved and joyful!

We have been busy with 4H Sewing Contests/Exhibits, preparing for local County Fair and working at 4H Cafe during county fair. Both girls did very well and came away with two projects each going to State Fair in Salem next week. In fact, I had to get up and drive to 4H office (an hour away) yesterday morning at 7 to drop off the projects! Now, we are officially off for the summer :0)

At the beginning of the summer, I participated in a free beta group program titled LIFE SKILL offered by Mental Health Services. Okay, NO, I am not mentally least I don't think I'm! (heehee) I was somewhat apprehensive at first. Now halfway through, I find it refreshing, actually helpful, and look forward to my weekly meetings. One of the skills we worked on was assertive communication. I had a hard time doing the assignment for this particular topic due to my cultural background and core values. I rarely can say no to anyone. I will bend so that others' needs are met. So in the past few weeks, I have been rethinking of my core values...some good, some not-so-good. At times, it is even stressful. But, I recognize it's a process; I am mindful about them and leave it at all.

Besides spending most of our days hiking around town (like here, here, and here,) on/in the river, and playing gracious hostess to our friends from Ireland, one of the most rewarding activities we adapted this summer is volunteering at a rescued horse ranch (here, here, and here) The kids love being there doing chores, riding, observing nature, discovering critters, and making friends even in mid-90° days.

At a local quilt show here in town over the weekend, my 12-year-old enjoyed viewing and appreciating hundreds of wonderful glorious quilts by local quilters. She even spent a whopping $1.00 for bags of quilting scraps and stripes to create her own (that is not a ragged quilt which she knew how to make!) I brought out many great quilting books from my collection for her to browse through and read if it interests her. So yesterday, in one afternoon while I was off to my 2-hour appointment, she managed to select scraps in different values, cut into 2.5" squares, and sew five of 4-square blocks!

There were a lot of crafty creations made in the summer which I will show in my crafty blog later when I am caught up. Stop by for a peek if you will.

Now...Are you or your precious tired of the breakfast menu served lately in your home like cereal, bacon and eggs, pancakes/waffles...or banana bread never appeals to little ones. Now, say GOODBYE to banana bread and HELLO to yum yum and moist banana muffins that melt in the mouth. We even had these as snack or dessert after dinner. If it weren't for 100 ° days, my kids would have me bake them everyday!

1 C All-Purpose Flour
½ C Wheat Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Baking Powder
½ t Salt
1 t Cinnamon
¼ t Nutmeg

4 Bananas, Mashed
¼ C White Sugar
¼ C Brown Sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/3 C Oil or Melted Butter
1 t Vanilla Extract

¼ C Brown Sugar, packed
2 T All-Purpose Flour
1/4 t Ground Cinnamon
1 T Butter
½ C Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts or pecans; optional

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin or cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, mix top seven ingredients together and set aside. Beat together remaining ingredients. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients except for butter. Cut in butter until mixture likes coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. The crumb is what sets these scrumptious muffins apart from the ordinary. You can make this in an 8x8 pan and double the topping. Friends and families raved about'll find not even a single crumb left on the plate ever.

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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